Issuer Spotlight: Bee Mortgage’s Curtis Wood on How He’s Disrupting the Mortgage Industry
Get to know Bee Mortgage’s Founder and CEO, Curtis Wood, as he discusses what inspired him to start his business and how Bee has been affected by the Pandemic.
How did you first get the idea for your business and what inspired you to go for it?
My lightbulb moment happened when I realized blockchain automation was the technology needed to support a completely mobile, mortgage experience. The ability to transfer a manual process to one that’s automated and contactless was not possible before blockchain.
Not one person I talked to in the banking industry was doing anything with blockchain – most hadn’t even heard of it. That’s when I knew the timing was right; I quit my job and launched Bee.
I quickly learned that there were some blockchain projects focused on mortgage lending, but they were asking the wrong questions. Experts were asking, “How do we originate a blockchain mortgage?” when they needed to be asking, “How do we originate a QM (qualified mortgage) using blockchain?” QM’s are TRID compliant, require no bank adoption, and are insurable by the government agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Working on the front lines as a loan officer, I dealt with all the customer and lender pain points firsthand in the mortgage process. A mobile mortgage process made possible with blockchain had the potential to solve roughly 90 percent of the headaches both parties experience.
Additionally, the implications blockchain automation can have on homeownership affordability are enormous. Automating loan origination tasks lowers acquisition costs, giving lenders the ability to lower rates and payments while retaining healthy margins. This will be an enormous help to those getting priced out of the housing market.
I’m a purpose-driven businessman and believe that we all have the responsibility to not only chase our dreams, but to leave this place a little better than we found it. I intend to use blockchain automation to save the housing market. Homeownership is the foundation of the American family and positively impacts every aspect of a community. I love what I do, and I want to do this for the rest of my life. I want to create and maintain a brand known as the direct mobile lender with the lowest rates that’s incredibly easy to use for the average person needing a solid, affordable mortgage option.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
My wife and business partner, Cynthia. She kicks me out of bed every morning and tells me to get to work. All kidding aside, I love what I do. I would do this even if I didn’t get paid - and for the longest time, I didn’t. Before we raised any money, I got up every day and worked on Bee. Even in the hardest times when my hope was dwindling, I worked on Bee. I put in the time, knowing that it would pay off some day in the future.
Fundopolis helped us get to that day in the future by connecting us with investors who share our vision and passion for impact investing and disrupting a $2.5T industry with mobile.
What are the future implications of the technology you are developing?
Whoever owns the mobile-purchase market owns the future of lending. There are two generations of new, young home buyers who do everything on their phones. Ninety-seven percent of time spent on a smartphone is spent in apps – these young consumers are buying stocks, cars, etc. through apps without ever talking with someone.
Millennials are the largest home buying group right now – and that group is only going to grow. Following them, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up unable to remember a time before the iPhone. Mobile demand will be massive; we are determined to position ourselves ahead of this marketplace trend.
Mobile has yet to disrupt the mortgage market like it has so many other sectors. Until blockchain, the technology needed to support a complete mobile mortgage process did not exist. With blockchain, you can trust a decentralized validation protocol even more than a human. Blockchain automation is robotics for the office employee – it will do to the office employee what robotics did to the assembly line.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) claims it costs lenders roughly $8,000 to acquire a customer. Through our proprietary automation, we’re estimating we can get that cost down to around $2,600 on phase one integration - and there are four phases of blockchain integration we’re building out.
How has the Pandemic affected your industry? Have you had to pivot your business strategy?
Economic crises present both challenges and opportunities. Long before the Pandemic, we were already building a contactless mortgage experience. Because of that, we haven’t really needed to pivot our business model.
Sales meetings with realtors and other agents were put on hold, so we instead focused our efforts on getting ahead with development – which as of today, we are.
We needed to pivot our financial forecasting in light of the new realities, but nothing that affected the overall sustainability of our start-up. COVID-19 is actually opening up new eClosing capabilities for us with The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announcing new guidelines on remote notaries and eNotes. It’s going to be a different world coming out of the Pandemic and we’re ready to go after the consumer looking for a contactless mortgage.